The Shape I’m In

I’ve spent the last couple of years raising money and awareness for various mental health charities, and promoting the events that happen (Time To Talk amongst others.) I also cycled for Mind last year and raised £500 whilst completing the RideLondon 46: thank you again to everybody who supported and helped cheer me on during what was an extremely transformative experience.

This year, I’m making a conscious decision to spend an entire week using words and pictures as an explanation as to how we are often incredibly hard on ourselves as people when it comes to self-image. This is a subject that I don’t often talk about publicly, but my obsession with weight and appearance has been a significant stumbling point to mental well-being across the years, especially after my daughter was born.

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Beauty is an incredibly subjective concept: perception of self massively dictates the ability and confidence of us all to be what it is we wish to become. If you are one of those people lucky enough to block out jibes and taunts of others, confident enough to stand as you are, looking happy and relaxed, those are skills you should be proud of. It has taken me a lifetime to feel a measure of that, and it’s far from a given.

I have some good words standing by for the third week in May (which is not long off now, hence why we’re talking about this now) and I hope you’ll consider reading (and sharing) them for a wider audience, to help the Mental health Foundation spread the word. If it wasn’t for their Mindfulness course, a lot of my progress forward would not have been possible, and it is high time I thanked them publicly for that assistance.

The first poem and article will appear on May 13th. I’ll see you then.

Poetry Archive :: Jungle

April for poetry isn’t just themed, it is the beginning of an intentional process of detachment. My brain, built as it is, has an almost obsessive need sometimes for order and control. However, increasing amounts of current poetry is anything but: free-form verse, little or no controlled structure, simply feelings falling from brain to page. What matters far more than a framework is the emergence of a unique poetic ‘tone’, rhythm of vocal presentation that only really manifests when the works are read aloud.

Therefore, I’m working hard on the process of attempting to decouple brain from structure. This week’s the foundation point, and Twitter’s restrictions make this a lot more conventional than I’d like, which we will address with next week’s subject matter. For now, however, it works as a means of environmental protest.


Jungle

Chlorophyll canopy, dancing
sunlight, humid motes
thousand-hued boughs:
welcome to the jungle.

Insect population, living
ecosystem, multicoloured
sensational overload:
moment in crisis.

Over-zealous farmers, stripping
green’s worth, bulldozing
entire species, extinction:
all for profit.

Planetary meltdown, stripping
colour, diversity’s
green turns to dust:
variety extinction.

Joint responsibility, changing
money-driven attitudes
preserve the jungle:
secure Earth’s future.

The Long Kiss Goodbye

Amazingly, we’re seven days into January already, which I have to say feels more like a full month of brain pushed to the literary grindstone. Amazingly, there is break scheduled at the end of this week, as there’s two major submissions on the board. Number one went this morning, after more than the usual portion of existential angst last night… [WARNING: Contains Swearing]

The brief, that’s sat on that wall [points] for two weeks since January calendars were created, was a 3000 word short story. Firstly there’d been flirtation with taking an existing work and refreshing, and that was still the plan on Saturday morning when I arrived in the kitchen for my pre-planning cuppa. Then, summat remarkable happened: a title hit me, followed shortly afterwards by an opening visual, fully formed in my head.

In the end, planning became largely unnecessary.

There will be those of you who will be looking at this with open-mouthed horror: you can’t write anything of note like this! On any other day there would be a definite, distinct agreement: stuff takes time to plot, then to write and finally bed down as complete or polished. This story, quite literally slapped me in the brain and DEMANDED to be written there and then, so that’s what happened. When it comes back having been rejected, then there’s an indicator it can be reworked. Now, the story’s submitted as is, because the whole thing begged me to do just that.

It also didn’t help that Mr Alt (the go-to proof reader and normal barometer of awesome) didn’t like it. Amazingly, it wasn’t because it was poorly put together or presented, it simply did not click with him. What isn’t clear is whether that’s because it needs more work, or whether the plot itself is not up to what he’d consider as a decent standard. Lying awake at 4am this morning, brain still wrestling with the comments, came a significant epiphany: I love this story.

The flow is strong, descriptive imagery complete and believable in my head. The plot is a spin on the ‘alternate histories’ of this here planet that derive such pleasure when explored and exploded as potential reality. Every major player is a woman, except one. Am I being blinded by confirmation bias, or is this indeed the best piece of fictional reality that’s been created in a decade? No, this is really good. I know it, and as a result it’s gone to be judged, and I’ll know it’s fate in a few months, because this stuff takes time.

I have two poems to finish and then edit, and the last pile of scheduling for the week.

Maybe this whole thing really is doable after all…

Poetry Archive : Holy

Mucking about with Christmas Hymns is my new jam. At some point over Christmas, when bored and not editing something important (there’s a list on the wall already) I’ll go back and give these efforts a do-over.

However, as this stands, I’m really proud of it.


Holy

Moment, silent caress; together, here:
holy moments, calm defined.
Unwind stressed day, silent night
shrouds sanctity within, stress gone.

Holding, quietly touched; separate, their
sacred tryst blooms, passion stamped.
Contain shrouded light, expel dark
no chance to coalesce, strain lost.

Emerging transformed, resurrection
tender outlook moulded, presented
whole; beautiful collaboration:
us, sleeping peacefully, heavenly.

Rising, changed constant, revived:
caring couple dictate new future.
Integral balance; co-operative state,
together, stream glories unhindered.

Together, hymn becomes mantra:
past, present indivisible whole.
History recalls evolutionary path;
two lives, redefined; finally complete.

Poetry Archive : Silent

This little diversion into non-rhyming is going very well, thanks very much.


Silent

This year, alone best choice; direction marked
not through light of yonder star. Inns empty,
shepherds crooked, drive away Christmas:
northwards, following enlightened prophesy.

Alone’s not sinful, redemptive festive escape:
without tinsel, sparkle, overzealous consumption.
Mountains beckon, practical snow, rewarding
effort, exploration; family, distant memory.

Cabin’s fire, intimacy, own counsel taken
rearranging priority, focus spirit upwards.
Meditation, mindfulness, misguided feelings
redirected towards winter; clear, precise.

Stillness, learning calm; light shafting
expands possibility, directs progression.
Wise woman’s gifts, self awareness packaged;
shepherd growth, narrate new, fresh spirit.

Reinvention of self begins; transformation
though decades, festive pasts combining.
DNA garlands, helix ribbons define space,
sterling gift, expansion: understanding whole.


Poetry Archive : En Lighten Ment

Most people don’t publish the poetry they muck about with, but I’m having fun playing in public. It is a continuing exercise of looking at how words fit into sentences, that rhyming is no longer a requirement but that sometimes, it becomes almost essential to do just that.

Nobody has taught me how this happens, all I have is looking at other people’s work as a starting point. Slowly, over time, those works are ingested, understood and then spat out again, only relevant portions remaining. It is a process of refinement, deconstruction then re-composition.

I love this job.


En Lighten Ment

Con; sider of false profits, con sequence.
Begging again, pave meant as side walk;
shift move, sent packing, cardboard home:
Lone loans bemoan corrugate slacking.

Lighten more, meant re leaf dead trees
branched out, ex tend Planet’s lease.
Under, standing tall; resist pence, land
left field fallow, shallow grave consequence.

Break fast bonds, tradition admission,
mill menial denial, tiled bile, meanwhile…
Fake smile, out side beside rising tides
climate NOT weather, brain cells? WHATEVER.

En lighten, brighten world, rotated dictated
make shift forward, out ward off evil: result?
Revolt, bolted doors no more, open ingest
honesty’s best; inter section, resurrection.

Twist, alter every answer’s meaning
attempting truth’s manipulative distillation:
enlightenment, facts placed together
always best means to set minds free.


 

Poetry Archive :: Sacred

I would love to write a comic. If any artist out there needs someone to provide words, or would be prepared to illustrate my stuff? I’d so collaborate.

For now, I have to dream my futures.


Sacred

One moment, offered earnestly, unannounced
transforms entire existence with a smile.
This picture, napkin drawn, instant facsimile
of unworthy, suddenly amazed recipient.

Last month, we were strangers: awkward
silences bound concurrent explanation.
Slowly, snails shed shells; accellerant
set fires between piled similarity, then BANG!

Each new passion uncovered, fresh leaf;
pages in joint ‘Notebook of Intent’ pools
your pictures, then my words, enmeshed
comic collaboration, cooperative start.

Joint religion, sacred ground first consecrated
though graphic novel, internet published
daily strips and FlipaClip, resultant fertile
minds, combined; inextricably entwined.

Together, we are art, belief but mostly faith:
our stories will be told through ink and pen.
Storyboard predicts endeavour’s end,
lovers’ connection fuels greater expression.